Long March 5 resumes launches with China’s heaviest satellite

Image courtesy of CASC.

On 27 December 2019, China’s largest rocket, the Long March 5, resumed operations after its launch failure in July 2017. The latest launch marked the 3rd flight of the rocket, and carried China’s newest and heaviest communications satellite, Shijian-20.

The Long March 5, which lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre, was declared a success and will be used for China’s Mars and Moon missions, both slated to take place in 2020 – Mars around June, and the Moon at the end of the year, having been delayed for 2 years already.

Shijian-20 has a liftoff mass of about 8,000 kg, using up slightly more than half of the Long March 5’s payload capability of 14,000 kg to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The communications satellite, which carries Ka-band high throughput payloads, and payloads for optical laser communication and quantum communication. These are being housed in the Dongfanghong-5 satellite bus, a new bus that is China’s largest and which is driven by new propulsion systems. China has reported that the satellite has successfully made it to its designated orbit, after 7 orbital maneuvers.

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